MOL hydrogen RTG

Kobe-Osaka Port pioneers RTG crane conversion to hydrogen

Japan’s Kobe-Osaka International Port Corporation is launching an initiative to showcase the operational prowess of hydrogen-fueled cargo handling machinery, marking a global first in converting a rubber-tired gantry (RTG) crane’s diesel engine generator to a hydrogen engine generator.

Image credit: MOL

The project is commissioned by the Kinki Regional Development Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, in cooperation with the Port and Harbor Bureau, Kobe City Government.

It will take place at the Kobe International Container Terminal (KICT), managed by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), at the Port of Hanshin.

The project is part of a broader strategy pursued by Japan to make its ports carbon-neutral by electrification of cargo handling machinery and its conversion to hydrogen.

Related Article

“Expectations for hydrogen as a clean energy source are growing around the world as it moves toward the realization of a decarbonized society,” MOL said announcing the project.

“Efforts are underway to develop technologies for cargo handling machinery using hydrogen as an energy source, among others. This demonstration project is the first in the world to convert an RTG’s diesel engine generator to a hydrogen engine generator.”

Images of the conversion of a rubber-tired gantry (RTG) crane to a hydrogen engine (top) and the supply and filling of hydrogen (bottom) in the demonstration project; Courtesy of MOL

As part of the initiative, Kobe-Osaka International Port will work to ensure a smooth and safe introduction of hydrogen energy, with on-site demonstrations of decarbonized port operations, in conjunction with Shosen Koun Co. which owns RTGs as the operator of KICT.

The project participants also include Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., a manufacturer of RTGs; iLabo Co., a hydrogen engine manufacturer, Iwatani Corporation, which is responsible for hydrogen supply, transport, and fueling, and consulting firm Universal Energy Laboratory Corporation.

During the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the partners will focus on project planning to formulate the implementation plan for the demonstration. Moving forward to the 2023-2024 fiscal year, the focus will shift towards the RTG crane conversion and trial operations, paving the way for the field demonstration.

As the project unfolds into the year 2025, on-site verification will take place, focusing on data acquisition and in-depth analysis. Subsequently, in the fiscal years 2025 to 2026, the project is poised for further refinement through the revision of technical standards and the establishment of benchmarks in the field of cargo handling machinery.